Why I came to The Work
I found in myself a deep dissatisfaction with the values of everyday life, and the recognition that the world is the way it is because I am the way I am. I felt that all criticisms of the human condition are valueless in the absence of my own ability to be other than what the habitual conditions of my life dictated.
Arriving at the Gurdjieff Society of Maine was a organic step in a process of seeking that began with yoga, led through conversion to the Catholic faith and an introduction to meditation through Buddhism. It was the effort to unite these approaches that led me to an interest in a “Wisdom” approach to Christianity. At a workshop focusing on that approach, I met a member of the Gurdjieff Society.
I have always known, since before my teens, that my “salvation” lay within me, not outside of me. When introduced to Gurdjieff’s work through reading In Search of the Miraculous, I felt a deep resonance, and knew this was the way for me.
The value of the Work for me
Either you are satisfied with yourself and your place in the world or you are not. If you are, there is nothing to discuss. If you are not, then you must ask yourself whether that dissatisfaction is directed externally towards other people and life circumstances, or it is directed internally towards yourself. If the latter is the case, how and with what tools can you begin to understand the sources of these thoughts and feelings?
Many of us, when alone, ask ourselves big questions: What is the meaning of my existence on earth? How do I fit into all that has been created? How may I serve, and what may I be of service to? How might I prepare for my death? How might I honor my parents? Gurdjieff’s system offers practical ideas for how one might come to understand elements of these questions in real life. One need not commit oneself to a life in a silent monastery or a lone cave on a mountaintop. We can pursue our big inner questions in the midst of our life. This is a means of embarking on a psychological and spiritual journey, and it is a journey of hope and of possibility. One begins from where one is right now, and help exists.
I now have something accumulated in me, which is there when the stressors of life become acute. I can come back to a quiet and serene place in myself more and more readily when I need to. And there is now a path and system to order my life. I believe all this has made me more mature and responsible, and kept my heart and mind more open.
The value of the Gurdjieff Society of Maine group work
The sincere efforts of the people in the group and the fruits of practice that are evident to me in qualities of intelligence, competence, and humor. As I make my own efforts I become more aware of how much I need the support and guidance of people who are more senior in the work.
In 1973 I witnessed Movements demonstrations for the first time, and heard the music. I knew that that was what I needed to help balance my work, and that is why I sought out this group. The exercises given in group, orally passed to us, were another missing piece for me, which has made all the difference in my practice.
I’m beginning to really see how the world is heading towards a crisis point. What has driven us collectively to this point? I can see the complexity of current political, economic and environmental issues, and I sense the underlying cause of this crisis coming from our own nature. So, if we could come together to have a broad dialogue, and study the way we think, believe and act, there’s a chance for a synergy in understanding. This has been an ongoing effort for many in human history, and isn’t it a process that needs to be constantly renewed both individually and collectively?
The person, me, who stands before a Movements class, knowing the demands and responsibilities, and finds herself lacking or messing up a beginning exercise, has a vivid taste of what it is like to be in front of and suffer one’s insufficiencies — and really feel what it is to bear them. I can clearly see something of myself.